Senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and former Kerala Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac on Wednesday moved the High Court seeking to quash the two summons issued to him by the Enforcement Directorate. The summons are in connection with transactions of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.
In the latest summons, the Enforcement Directorate asked him to appear before it on August 11, PTI reported.
In his petition, Isaac has contended that the central agency was attempting to conduct a “fishing and roving enquiry” into the financial dealings of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.
The enquiry is “against the spirit of orders” of the Supreme Court, his plea stated.
“I have asked them [Enforcement Directorate] to recall the summons or clarify the offence against me or KIIFB,” the former finance minister of Kerala wrote on Twitter.
Isaac claimed that the summons did not reveal the nature of the violations allegedly committed by him under the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act.
“If RBI, the FEMA regulator, has no objections what is the worry for ED?” he asked. “It is a clear case of political vendetta.”
Isaac’s plea also mentioned that the “summons are ex-facie illegal and beyond the jurisdiction of the scope of inquiry contemplated under the FEMA since admittedly there is no violation of any provision of the said Act”, PTI reported.
According to his plea, the agency has sought details of his role in the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board with respect to issuing masala bonds, reported The New Indian Express. Masala bonds are issued outside India but denominated in Indian currency.
Isaac, who was the vice-chairman of the Board, said that all its actions were performed legally.
The Enforcement Directorate had first issued summons to him last month, seeking his appearance before it on July 19. He, however, refused to comply with the orders, The Hindu reported. The second notice was sent in the first week of August.
“I will not appear before them as I have more important things to do,” he had said then. “They can arrest me if they want. I will not be appearing before them.”
He had alleged that the agency was acting under the directions of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led Centre to target the Opposition.
“KIIFB is the primary agency of the state government for financing large and critical infrastructure projects and had last year raised Rs 2,150 crore through its debut masala bond issue as part of its plan to mobilise Rs 50,000 crore to fund large and critical infrastructure projects in the southern state,” Isaac had written on his Facebook page, PTI reported.
Notice sent to Isaac irrelevant, says Congress leader
Leader of Opposition in the Kerala Assembly VD Satheesan on Thursday said that the Enforcement Directorate’s notice to Isaac “does not have any relevance”, PTI reported.
The Congress leader said that the central agency cannot investigate foreign financial transactions like the masala bonds issued by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.
“Here, the issue is that a loan was availed from abroad at a higher interest rate,” Satheesan told reporters. “I do not see how that comes under the purview of the ED.”
Satheesan said that no one has been made an accused yet and that Isaac was only being asked to appear before the ED for questioning, PTI reported.
“However, according to me, the ED does not have any power to probe issuance of masala bonds by KIIFB,” he added.